Wells Tags: h. Wells is known as one of the fathers of science fiction and a pioneer of scientific romance. Originally published as a serial between to — imagine waiting five years to find out the end! Graham sides with the peasants and the workers and leads a revolution to overthrow the financiers and restore freedom. While the novel is rather blunt in its promotion of the socialist ideal — some might even say that the novel is too didactic — the science fiction elements are still captivating even today. Wells envisions a world of airports and airplanes decades before such things were commonplace, and he foresaw that urbanization would depopulate the countryside.
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Okay, The War in the Air is still sitting on my shelf waiting to be read, however since it had been a while since I had read a Wells book I decided to grab this one. Sure, I knew a little about this book — namely a man went to sleep and woke up two hundred years in the future to discover that, not surprisingly, everything had changed.
Mind you, it is not his only foray into this speculative realm, since he also does it in The Time Machine and The Shape of Things to Come. Still, I do have this interest to try and see how visionary Wells, and other writers, really were. As it turns it — quite so. In fact this book reads very much like the more famous dystopian visions of our age, such as and A Brave New World. In fact there are quite a few things in this book that as I was reading it made me wonder if he had actually had a crystal ball and looked into the 20th Century.
For instance we have the working class who earn only enough to make it from day to day, which seems to be where the working class of this era is quickly heading, while the wealthy are able to spend their lives in pleasure domes and when they either get board, or run out of money, they can then euthanise themselves.
The story goes that Graham suffers from insomnia, so he undergoes a treatment that allows him to sleep. Unfortunately he oversleeps — by a long shot. As it turns out, Graham has become some sort of legend — the sleeper — namely because when he went to sleep he had some money saved in the bank, but over two hundred years it grew thanks to compound interest, to the point where he had so much that he could literally buy everything on the Earth.
However, what I will mention is this idea of money compounding over hundreds of years. In fact Futurama did an episode where Fry had discovered that he was broke, however remembered that he had some money in a bank account — a measley 93c, back in , and decided to see if he could withdraw some, only to discover that he was now a billionaire.
That started me thinking, so I found a compound interest calculator on the internet, plugged in the numbers, and low and behold: For those unable to read it the figure comes to just under nine billion dollars at 2. Anyway, I could probably write a lot more on some of the ideas that came out of this book, however I might leave it for a blog post down the track, particularly since there is actually a lot I could write.
However, I should mention that it is interesting how people like Wells viewed the future, particularly since prior to him writers never actually seemed to be all that concerned with speculating as to how society would turn out — rather they seemed to write about society as it was then, and while writers like Bentham , Marx , and Rousseau did write social commentaries, they only did so to address the problems that faced society at the time as opposed to attempting to predict what would come to pass in the future.
What we have with authors such as Verne and Wells is the idea to not look at society now, but where society is heading, both technologically and socially.
Some might suggest that it was because the world was starting to see a rapid change with technology, but technology had been progressing for hundreds of years. However, it could also have a lot to do with industrialisation because what was happening was that the traditional agrarian society was suddenly being disrupted. Up until that time a bulk of the population lived in the country and cities only existed as centres of trade and administration. Industrialisation not only meant that more could be made quicker, and cheaper, but also labour was needed where the factories were as opposed to where the farms were — and the factories tended to be located near the coast, which is where a bulk of the cities existed, and grew.
Yet writers such as Wells, and later Orwell , could see a dark side to progress, as they both portrayed in books that are remarkably similar. However, by the time Orwell was writing a new technology was appearing in the form of the television, which had built upon the foundations of film and radio before that, and television ushered in a new age of thought-control through what is know known as the mass media.
When the Sleeper Wakes
Wells Originally serialized from to , Wells later made some crucial changes to the piece to create a flawless dystopian science fiction novel published in and renamed The Sleeper Awakes. The novel focuses on an Englishman, who falls in a deep sleep lasting two centuries, and sees him wake up in an unrecognizable setting and extremely wealthy. An enthralling tale of dystopian society depicted through a colorful imagination, The Sleeper Awakes concentrates on topics including dystopia, political power, religion, plutocracy, and individual and social awakening. The story opens in London in the year , and introduces its protagonist Graham, who is despondent over his inability to fall sleep. Left without much choice, he turns to medication, which instead of offering temporary relief induces a coma-like trance.
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Okay, The War in the Air is still sitting on my shelf waiting to be read, however since it had been a while since I had read a Wells book I decided to grab this one. Sure, I knew a little about this book — namely a man went to sleep and woke up two hundred years in the future to discover that, not surprisingly, everything had changed. Mind you, it is not his only foray into this speculative realm, since he also does it in The Time Machine and The Shape of Things to Come. Still, I do have this interest to try and see how visionary Wells, and other writers, really were. As it turns it — quite so.
The Sleeper Awakes by H.G. Wells